MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the virtual burial of the landmark ruling which was considered by the SC justices as the “copycat” disqualification case of Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
This after the SC En Banc has ordered the Entry of Judgment in the case of an American who re-acquired Filipino citizenship, but who, thereafter, had continuously used his US passport is disqualified to seek an elective office.
The controversial case of Mayor Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte has sent signals in the case of Poe after the SC has denied with finality the disqualification of the beleaguered mayor.
In a two-page resolution of the SC En Banc dated Feb. 9, 2016 and released on Monday, the SC has ordered the issuance of the Entry of Judgment which puts final closure to the case.
The SC also took “Note” of the means which caused the closure of the case from the letter dated Jan. 29, 2016 of Arnado’s opponent and victor Mayor Florante Capitan submitting the certification of the Postmaster of Iligan City.
Also the Letter of Diosdado Samson, Chief of the SC Judgment Division, of the Judicial Records Office referring to the Letter of Capitan and the Certification of the Postmaster.
“Let the entry of judgment be issued,” the SC cited in its resolution which was promulgated by Clerk of Court of the SC En Banc Atty. Felipa B. Anama and released on Monday.
On Dec. 1, 2015, with a 10-4 voting, the SC dismissed the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by Arnado ousting him as mayor of the said province by ruling that he is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
This was the very case now being raised in the SC En Banc oral arguments as the jurisprudence in reference with the case of Poe.
This is the first case which has attained “Finality” by the SC En Banc, prior to the May 9, 2016 presidential elections and after the May 2013 elections which involves a public official who was disqualified for an elective post because he was an American citizen.
The said resolution and the decision of the SC in the Arnado case was written by Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo who happened to be the same ponente in the disqualification cases against Poe.
In the 21-page decision of the SC written by Del Castillo, it ruled that the petition of Arnado must be dismissed and declared him not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and must be disqualified to run for mayor and allows his opponent Florante Capitan to sit as mayor.
“In fine, this Court finds no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Comelec en banc in sustaining the Resolution of the Comelec 2nd Division in disqualifying Arnado from running in the May 13, 2013 elections and accordingly setting aside his proclamation as elected mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte and proclaiming Capitan as the duly elected mayor of said municipality,” the SC ruled.
The SC maintained its ruling in disqualifying Arnado twice, first in the May 10, 2010 elections, and second, in the May 13, 2013 elections.
“Arnado’s use of his US passport in 2009 invalidated his oath of renunciation resulting in his disqualification to run for mayor of Kauswagan in the 2010 election,” the SC ruled.
Hence, after Arnado was disqualified during the May 2010 elections, “since then and up to the time he filed his COC for the 2013 elections, Arnado had not cured the defect in his qualification.”
“In other words, when Arnado filed his COC on Oct. 1, 2012, he was not totally unaware that the use of his US passport after had executed the Affidavit of Renunciation might have an impact on his qualification and candidacy,” it said.
“Consistent with our April 16, 2013 ruling, Arnado should be made to face the consequences of his inaction since he could have remedied it at the time he filed his COC on Oct. 1, 2012 or even before that,” it added.
In the current case, the SC reiterated its ruling as it disqualified Arnado as mayor of Kauswagan despite his landslide victory against Capitan during the May 13, 2013 elections.
The SC ruled that “Only natural-born Filipinos who owe total and undivided allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines could run for and hold elective public office.”
In the antecedents of the case, Arnado was a natural-born Filipino citizen who became a US citizen in view of his naturalization.
However, on July 10, 2008 he re-acquired Filipino citizenship and took his oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and executed an affidavit of renunciation of his foreign citizenship on April 3, 2009.
Arnado had his problem after it was discovered that Arnado used his US passport when he left for abroad on April 14, 2009 and returned on June 25, 2009.
Likewise, he went abroad again on July 29, 2009 arriving back to the Philippines on Nov. 24, 2009, also using his US passport.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued a certification bearing the date of April 23, 2010 which shows that Rommel Cagoco Arnado “appeared on the database listing as of April 21, 2010, and based on the entries thereon, was listed as an American citizen.”
Despite this fact, Arnado sought public office on Nov. 30, 2009 by filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.
When the May 2010 elections were fast approaching, a disqualification case was filed against Arnado before the Comelec.
In the ruling of the Comelec First Division, it disqualified Arnado as a candidate and when the case reached the Comelec En Banc, it set aside the ruling of the Division.
Hence, the case reached the SC through a petition for certiorari in a case filed by Maquiling.
On April 16, 2013, the SC ruled granting Maquiling’s petition when it disqualified Arnado, first as a candidate, then as mayor of Kauswagan.
“Between April 3, 2009, the date he renounced his foreign citizenship, and November 30, 2009, the date he filed his COC, Arnado used his US passport four times, actions that run counter to his Affidavit of Renunciation. By using his US passport, Arnado positively and voluntarily represented himself as an American, in effect, declaring before immigration authorities of both countries that he is an American citizen, with all attendant rights and privileges granted by the United States of America,” the SC said.
“When Arnado used his US passport just eleven days after he renounced his US citizenship, he recanted his Oath of Renunciation that he “absolutely and perpetually renounce(s) all allegiance and fidelity to the United States of America” and that he “divest(s) [him]self of full employment of all civil and political rights and privileges of the United States of America,” it added.
The case was repeated for the May 2013 elections after Arnado filed his COC on Oct. 1, 2012 which he won in the elections against Capitan, his lone rival in the mayoralty post.
However, in the case itself, Arnado lost with the Comelec Second Division and also with the Comelec En Banc after a disqualification case was filed by Capitan.
Afterwards, the case reached again the SC En Banc to which Arnado lost again.